Page 2 of 2 Previous

Continued: Dennis Anderson: Burger Brothers are building, once again

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 1, 2012 - 12:37 AM

LAKE OF THE WOODS, ONTARIO - Seventeen years after Ted and Bud Burger sold their namesake Twin Cities sporting-goods stores, they are doing what they always did.

Except now they will do it from an island cabin.

"We hunted and fished when we were working, and we still do,'' Bud said one day last week.

But the identical twins who grew up in the Twin Cities might in the end be remembered less for their field skills -- polished though they are -- than for their groundbreaking retail outlets, which presaged a nationwide shift to sporting-goods megastores such as Cabela's and Gander Mountain.

In fact, the brothers' six stores, when purchased by the third generation of the Erickson family of Holiday gas and convenience store fame, became the flagship outlets for the Gander Mountain chain of outfitters that stretches across the country today.

"When we opened our first store at 44th and France in Edina in 1970, we were 25 years old and had one employee,'' Bud said. "When we sold the stores in 1995, we were 50 years old with 400 employees.''

Added Ted: "And having one employee was easier.''

Because the brothers pursued hunting and fishing so intently, they knew which equipment was needed for which activity, and knew also the difference between high- and low-quality gear.

"Our passion was good equipment, and the people who used it,'' Bud said.

When the Burgers first opened their doors -- after simultaneous stints in the Air Force during the Vietnam War -- Twin Cities competitors included Joe's Sporting Goods, then at Como and Dale in St. Paul, Gokey's in downtown St. Paul and EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports) in Roseville, among a handful of others.

Certainly the late Joe D. Rauscher, owner of Joe's Sporting Goods, was an avid sportsman who hired qualified people (the current Joe's, at Hwy. 36 and Rice Street in St. Paul, is similarly operated by his sons, Joe and Jim).

Still, a vacuum existed in 1970 on the Twin Cities' west side for a high-quality sporting-goods outlet.

The Burgers' first store was built on stilts, of a sort, with customer parking underneath.

"There were 14 steps to get up to the store level,'' Ted said. "We figured if a guy couldn't climb 14 steps, he probably wasn't going to hunt or fish much anyway.''

Operating that single outlet was challenge enough. Expanding their Twin Cities footprint would be more difficult still.

But the future they envisioned for retail sporting goods entailed multiple, bigger outlets offering even wider equipment selections.

Critical to the success of any expansion, the brothers believed, would be a continued emphasis on hiring knowledgeable and experienced staff.

Fortunately, qualified job applicants were sufficiently plentiful, they say, because hunting and fishing were popular pastimes in the Twin Cities.

"When Buddy and I were kids, most of the dads of our friends hunted ducks and pheasants, and fished,'' Ted said. "That's not necessarily the case anymore.''

• • •

Though the brothers grew up in the Twin Cities, much of their outdoor education occurred at a family cabin on Lake Alexander in Morrison County.

It was there, beginning at about age 6, that the brothers spent their summers.

The wilderness "feel'' the retreat afforded was never forgotten, and when they sold their stores, they and their wives moved to a relatively remote property not far from Bemidji, building separate homes a few hundred yards apart.

"We decided it was better looking out a window near Bemidji than it was looking out a window in the Twin Cities,'' Ted said.

On that property each week in summer they mow 30 acres of grass, a chore that takes each brother four hours.

It's also where Bud, an artist, forges wildlife bronzes using a "lost wax'' process (budburgerbronze.com), and from which in recent years they have launched countless nine-hour drives to giant Lake Nipigon, north of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

En route, behind their truck, they've pulled an enclosed and virtually unsinkable aluminum fishing cruiser they had custom built in the Northwest.

"Nipigon is an incredible fishing lake, with big lake trout, but it's very intimidating,'' Bud said. "When the wind whips up, you can have 12-foot waves. We'd go for five days at a time because it's so far away. But with the frequency of wind and storms, usually we'd fish only three of those days.''

Added Ted: "That's why we bought this island on Lake of the Woods. It's a wilderness setting, the fishing is good and it's a much shorter drive.''

The island had a small A-frame cabin on it, which will be retained.

Construction of a new, larger cabin was begun last winter, with completion scheduled for later this month.

"Teddy and I oversaw the building of our stores, and this is much the same kind of experience,'' Bud said. "We sketched out what we wanted, took it to an architect in Bemidji to have plans made, and went from there.''

For many years, the brothers fished worldwide and hunted big game wherever in North America they found it. Trim and fit, they pursued mountain sheep most passionately of all.

In the intervening years they've mellowed, they concede, and appreciate today rising a little later than that type of hunting requires.

Casting an eye toward the waters surrounding their "newest adventure,'' Bud said:

"We still love to hunt. But fishing is more of a gentleman's sport.''

Dennis Anderson • danderson@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Ted and Bud Burger

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 3
Minnesota - LP: J. Burton 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 3
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 7 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 2
Miami - WP: J. Cosart 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Boston - LP: A. Webster 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 7
Cleveland - WP: J. Tomlin 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: S. Downs 2
Detroit - WP: K. Ryan 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Bassitt 4
Texas - LP: P. Klein 0 FINAL
Houston - WP: S. Feldman 2
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: V. Nuno 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wada 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 13
Los Angeles - LP: J. Wright 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 2
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy 3
Oakland - LP: J. Samardzija 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: Y. Herrera 2
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: R. Elias 1
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
FC Dallas 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Portland 3 FINAL
Vancouver FC 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Chicago 70 FINAL
Indiana 77
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close